Amla is a little, tropical fruit filled with innumerable health benefits you cannot even imagine.
These fruits are reputed to contain high amounts of ascorbic acid (vitamin C), up to 445 mg per 100 g. They are also packed with pigment antioxidant polyphenols, and vitamins A and B.
Also known as gooseberries, amla are low in calories. One hundred grams of fresh berries holds just 44 calories. Like black currants, they have significantly high amounts of phenolic phytochemicals, especially flavones and anthocyanins. Both of these compounds have been found to have numerous health benefits. They are anti-cancer and anti-aging. They fight inflammation and neurological diseases.
The Ayurvedic Perspective
The word Amla refers to sour, which is its predominant taste. Its botanical name is Emblica officinalis or Phyllanthus emblica. It contains all the rasas or tastes except lavana (salty). It is known to pacify the tridoshas (Vata, Pitta and Kapha). Its cooling potency reduces Pitta. Its sweet taste pacifies Vata. Kapha is balanced primarily due to its drying action.
Ayurveda scholar Charaka mentions the fruit as a medicine which can be taken on a daily basis. He included it among the Vayasthapana (anti-aging) group of natural medicines.1
Amla is one of the main ingredients of Chyawanaprash (an herbal rasayana or rejuvenator) which contains 43 herbal ingredients along with clarified butter, sesame oil, sugar cane juice and honey. This recipe was first mentioned in the Charaka Samhita, the ancient classical text book of Ayurveda.
Traditionally this fruit is used for skin diseases. It relieves constipation and is used for enhancing proper digestion. It is also used for blood purification, for treating fever and cough, and is beneficial to the heart and eyes. It improves the intellect and is known to promote hair growth. It is also known to control diabetes as well.
Amla Recipes + How To Take Amla
This fruit is eaten raw or cooked into various dishes. The best way to consume it is to eat it fresh. If you are not comfortable with that, you can also crush its pulp and drink its juice.
1. Amla In Honey Recipe
Vitamin C in this super fruit helps with iron absorption and honey is wonderful for raising the blood count. Amla in honey tastes wonderful and doesn’t have any bitterness at all.
To make amla in honey, first wash the fruit and pierce it all over with a fork. Arrange the pricked gooseberries in a glass bottle and pour pure honey on top. Cover with a lid and keep it in the sunlight for a few days until the water within them leaches out completely. Once the water has leached out of the fruits, remove them from the mixture and place them in a separate dry container. Pour fresh honey on top. This amla in honey mixture will last a long time.
2. Amla Dal Recipe
1 cup Toor dal or split pigeon peas
1 cup tomatoes, chopped into big pieces
1/2 cup onion, chopped into big pieces
10 pieces of amla fruit or Indian gooseberry
1 tsp red chili powder
1 tsp mustard seeds
1 tsp oil
few curry leaves
Wash the dal and place it in a pressure cooker. Now add the tomatoes and amla along with the red chili powder and chopped onions. Add some water and a pinch of turmeric and cook until the dal becomes soft and mushy. It takes about three whistles in the pressure cooker. Let it cool down and then remove the lid and mash it with a masher. Add the salt and adjust it to taste.
Now take a clean pan and add the oil. Heat the mustard seeds until they pop and then add the curry leaves and warm quickly. Pour this over the cooked dal and mix thoroughly. Serve hot.
3. Amla Hair Oil Recipe
Amla is widely used in shampoos and hair oils.
250 grams + 100 grams, amla powder
4 liters of water
500 mL of coconut oil (Those with sinusitis or a cold can use sesame oil.)
How To Make Amla Hair
First make a decoction. Take 250 g of the powder and 4 L of water and heat over medium heat, reducing the liquid to one liter. Next add 100 g of the powder to a little water and make a fine paste. Now heat together the coconut oil, decoction and paste over a medium flame. Heat until only the oil remains and the water is completely evaporated. Filter and store in an air tight container.
This oil helps in hair growth and prevents premature hair loss. It relieves dandruff and dryness of the scalp as well.
Amla is also used in a classical Ayurveda treatment called takra dhara, a form of shirodhara.
1 Charaka Samhita, Sutra Sthana, Chapter 5.